- Full preview of the American Express PGA with The Golf Insider
- Two value picks at $65 and $75
This week’s second tournament sees the players hit mainland USA. The sets in motion what is known as the “West Coast Swing”… a run of early season events in California, Nevada and Arizona before the players switch to Florida in March.
American Express PGA: The Tournament
The event is probably better known as the Bob Hope Classic, then the Humana Challenge, and more recently the CareerBuilder Challenge… then the Desert Classic… and now The American Express! It’s been on the schedule since Arnold Palmer won the inaugural event in 1960. In a previous life it was also a five-round tournament, but since 2012 it has been reduced to the standard four rounds.
American Express PGA: The Course
Traditionally held over three courses, this is the first time the tournament will be played over just two – the Pete Dye-designed PGA West TPC Stadium Course (par 72, 7,113 yards), and the PGA West (Jack Nicklaus Tournament Course) over 7,152 yards, and is also a par 72. The oldest of the three courses previously used, La Quinta, has been dropped this year. The players will play each course once in Round 1 and 2, and then will switch to the Stadium Course, exclusively, for the weekend’s two final rounds. Each course has four par 5s, and should remain conducive to low scoring. But dropping the third and easiest course off the format this year might just stiffen the challenge for the players this week.
260: Patrick Reed (2014)
American Express PGA: Past Winners
2020: Andrew Landry
2019: Adam Long
2018: Jon Rahm
2017: Hudson Swafford
2016: Jason Dufner
American Express PGA: The Field
There will be 156 golfers playing this week. Patrick Cantlay is the $16 favourite with TopSport.
American Express PGA: The Weather
The players will struggle to see a drop of rain all week as cloud cover will be minimal and temperatures will sit in the mid 70s (F). And with wind speeds barely high enough to ruffle your plus-fours, the players should enjoy perfect playing and scoring conditions.
American Express PGA: Outright Value Bets
The Golf Insider has sent his five top outright bets to his members. Here’s two of them as a sample…
Phil Mickelson (currently $75 with TopSport)
One of the reasons why I’m backing Mickelson here is that I have a note under this event (dating back several years) that says “BACK MICKELSON ABOVE 25/1″… so when I saw this price, my interest was immediately drawn to “Lefty”. This event is a glorified pitch-and-putt, with fairways easy enough to find, which plays to Mickelson’s strengths. There aren’t many better with the wedge in hand than ‘Phil the Thrill’ and it’s easy to see why he’s come close to winning this event twice in the last five years. Mickelson loves a home game and thrives in California, which is another big plus with this bet. His form has been incredible on the Seniors, and so-so on the PGA Tour, but he did make the cut at the US Masters on his last start. He might be a little rusty as this is his first outing of the year, but at $75 on an ideal layout for his game, with plenty of course form, he’s a no-brainer for me this week.
Sepp Straka (currently $65 with TopSport)
Whilst this tournament will play to the strengths of the super-aggressive, it will also suit those guys who can play the courses efficiently, avoid what trouble there is, and quietly accumulate birdies. Harman is a neat and tidy player, excellent from tee-to-green and solid around the greens. He missed the cut here last year, but previous figures of 20-3-11 show that the Georgian (the state not the country!) likes both the format and the courses in use this week. Harman has started off the season in typical fashion making six cuts from seven starts with four Top 25s. He’s a two-time winner on the PGA Tour, so knows how to win, and with no really big names playing this week, it’s a great chance for Harman to add a third title. Well worth backing in my opinion.